I played this! Lots of little improvements here and there I noticed, and the maps play better than in the last demo. Some thoughts follow since this was getting a little long for the feedback form:
Chapter 3: The first two turns are the toughest by a good margin; Ferris can handle the right on his own, two units are good for the left side, and the rest can wall up in the center. Enemy reinforcements arrive too late to apply much pressure; by Turn 4 you should have all the initial enemies wiped out, making the newcomers a nonissue. The Physic is very welcome and came in handy a few times down the line…but I miss the Rescue staff! It was fun!
Chapter 4: Not a very exciting chapter. I had everything but the Priest routed on Turn 8, so the Mage reinforcements were nothing to worry about, but at least they spawned right were my guys were so it wasn’t a bother to pick them off.
Chapter 5: Thief arrives a little late. What with the breakable wall being there now, you could almost start him on the map and still have time to catch him. Similarly I think the Cav reinforcements could be moved up a turn, or have more threatening weaponry - by breaking through the wall you can pretty easily get the chests with Kate and leave a turn or two ahead of them. Or just leave like Ferris behind to hold the chokepoint. Basically two Iron Lance Cavaliers on T8 are basically free XP. The breakable wall is a nice addition but it definitely speeds up the chapter by a couple turns compared to when you had to come into the prison from above.
Hans is a little rude with his 10 Crit. A trained Clover can handle him fine, but the rest of your units have trouble hurting him or have lowish Luck, so without her I could see a player having issues. Maybe Elfire (and dropping Hans’s Magic score) instead would work better? OH WAIT I looked at the convoy later and remembered you get a Barrier staff on this map, that would have made things waaay easier if I had used my brain.
Chapter 5x: This was my favourite chapter in the previous demo, and I liked it this time around too. Got to be very careful with your positioning, and the reinforcements do a good job of forcing you to move quickly (was the second set of Fighters replaced by the Cavaliers? IIRC the Fighters used to go on for multiple turns). I was surprised when the boss moved, and a little dismayed when she started attacking the prisoners - would have been a reset if not for Niccolo’s Physic. Although I didn’t seem to get any reward for saving them? When I beat the chapter it went straight to Beatrice asking Judith to continue her story, perhaps because I didn’t talk to the prisoners since the boss was in the way.
Chapter 6: A fun chapter. There’s a few neat things you can do on the first turn, like rescue-dropping Judith in range of the Cavaliers or killing the three nearest enemies on Player Phase, that help a lot to speed things up. Trying to push through the center of the map is pretty difficult, and the Brigand keeps you honest so you can’t totally turtle, but I found the Cavalier reinforcements to be very late.I had my units practically in front of the gate when they began. They’d have more impact if the left one started two turns earlier and the right one a single turn earlier. Otherwise, it’s a nice touch how Melanie is pulled in two different directions - north to the armory, Swordreaver guy and baiting the enemy Pegs, and southeast to save the village more easily - so it’s not a no-brainer to use her for the village.
Also, it would have been cool if the huge army that’s shown in chapter 7 shows up if you take too long. I mean you are breaking through siege lines here.
Chapter 7: I remember liking the original chapter 7, which had you charging up north, fending off or outrunning increasingly dangerous waves of reinforcements as you went. This version has a similar pace if you go for Strickland, and on my run I would have lost a character or two if not for coinflip dodges. Obviously the reward for hurrying up is just an Energy Ring instead, well, beating the chapter before you’re overwhelmed, although the map is open enough that playing aggressively is probably the best solution anyway.
It’s relatively easy to go fast enough that the Turn 3 reinforcements spawn almost on top of you; this isn’t necessarily a problem since you do have to devote units to killing them, which makes responding to future waves harder. If these were ambush spawns I’d have a very different opinion. Since I was trying to get to Strickland I managed to clear out everything by Turn 7; on the one hand I’d say there could be more waves, but on the other hand I did need that free time to gather my units to kill Strickland, him being so fast and bulky. Fia and Rowan in particular did good damage without being doubled and were essential to the bosskill.
Strickland’s another boss who had crit on pretty much everybody. I guess it makes having high Luck actually notable, but it is worrying to stare down multiple 1-3% chances of having to reset at the end of the chapter…
Chapter 7x: Short and sweet. Playing around with some endgame-capable prepromotes is good fun. Surviving is fairly simple; reaching Pietro is pretty difficult, and killing him is really tough, probably because you’re not supposed to be able to do it lol
The S-Rank Lance whose name I forget doesn’t have animations at 2-range BTW.
Chapter 8: I like the atmosphere of this chapter, and the map itself is pretty, but it’s super easy. Everything has iffy hit, lowish attack and no AS; coupled with simple AI settings this is basically a training map ala Lagdou Ruins. You just move forward at an easy pace and bait in monsters for whoever needs experience. There’s no reason to visit the northeast portion of the map except more experience. IMO the monsters should be a lot tougher on the offence, and maybe attack in groups. The chapter end text mentions that the Nicaeans are in pursuit, so some reinforcements from the starting zone might make sense. Maybe the 7x generics can reprise their roles?
I know I’m always saying “this should be harder” with these chapters, but I did actually enjoy them! Just because it’s a hack doesn’t mean it has to be brutal, although that is where my tastes lean. It’s just chapter 8 that seems out of place difficulty-wise considering its position.
In regards to the plot: I liked it! The new direction for events works better than before and gives the characters more room to breathe. Recruitable Cassandra was a surprise but it makes sense.
And some thoughts on units I used regularly:
Judith was pretty OK. Not the best stats, but enough to hold her own, and Sagaris was a great tool for getting rid of those pesky Knights and Cavaliers. Niccolo was essential once again, whether healing, chipping or ORKOing the occasional slow enemy. It feels like his combat is a little worse compared to the last demo, but he’s still more than strong enough to be useful.
Clover was pretty consistently doubling, but generally fell short of an ORKO outside of a crit or when facing axemen. Not at all like Rowan, who took off around chapter 4 and became a beast of a man. I gave him a Dracoshield to let him fight on Enemy Phase more effectively and it was well worth it
Last time I used June and Rose so I benched them right away here to focus on these two. Martin rarely one-rounded enemies, but his ability to draw in a group of enemies and laugh as they failed to injure him more than made up for it. 13 Defence stops more enemies cold than you’d expect! Fia was the opposite sort, going from chipping, to one-rounding Knights, to one-rounding Mercenaries and Cavaliers as she went up in levels. A+ unit.
Kate was deployed for chests and as a decent filler unit. Didn’t bother giving her much XP since Clover was doing well, but a Thief with C Swords could do some work. Lily on the other hand got no speed at all and was eventually benched outside of a brief outing on chapter 7 to fire ballistae.
Angus was…ok I suppose. He can hit hard, which is nice for OHKOing mages when I have spare deployment slots, but overall I found him a little lacklustre. At least Judith has the Sagaris and good Defence to support herself. Melanie was a late joiner but very useful during her time, both for flying utility and general combat.
Well done on the demo, and I’m looking forward to the next one! If you all ever need some extra ASM work I can dust off my tools and see about making some things.